Smallville

Season 6 Episode 20

Noir

2
Aired Friday 8:00 PM May 03, 2007 on The CW
8.0
out of 10
User Rating
963 votes
77

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Lana has a secret meeting at the Daily Planet, after which Lana is shot. While Jimmy is observing photos of the encounter, he is knocked unconscious. While unconscious Jimmy dreams about what life in Smallville would have been like in the 1940s. Clark is a reporter at the Daily Planet, Lana is a siren who planned the demise of her magnate husband Lex, and Lois is a singer at a bar that Lionel owns.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • If I can give this episode a zero, I would.

    1.0
    First off, how can you get whacked on the head and suddenly dream about Smallville in the 1940s. On top of that, the acting was straight up horrific. I almost vomited seeing this piece of crap of an episode. Whomever wrote this episode needs to be slapped, punched, kicked and spit upon for making such a terrible episode. I love Smallville and I'm a hardcore Smallville lover so when I say an episode is trash believe me it is. I pulled things out of the garbage that I rather eat than watch this for even a second. I hope next week's episode can erase this horrific episode completely.moreless
  • 10
    This episode removes the cheese from the usual Smallville dialog and unrealism and puts it into a playful and artistic setting. From the scheming seductress to the naive but talented hero and the course accidental murder and twist ending. This episode covered all the Smallville bases without the cheese. The usual Chloe lines now held classicism rather than pop teenage culture and drama. Not to mention we got a look into the eclectic and interesting if over-the-top mind of our good old Jimmy Olsen. For those who think this episode was a flop, maybe the finer points of art, film, and all creative history aren't for you.moreless
  • Great Episode

    10
    Jimmy is knocked unconscious and dreams he's a reporter for the Daily Planet in 1940. In the present, Chloe and Jimmy try and figure out who shot Lana, but it's Lois and Lionel that discover that Lex is working with Senator Burke on a project called "Aries". Chloe learns that Lionel forced Lana to marry Lex, and that he's using her to spy on Lex. Most importantly, Clark finds out why Lana was forced to marry Lex, and he is not a happy camper. There is precious little more about the Ares project, and the setup for the next episode is light at best.moreless
  • After Lana is shot at the DP, Jimmy and Chloe investigate. Someone knocks Jimmy unconsciousness, and he dreams a black-and-white episode with other Smallville characters playing new roles but with similar relationships.moreless

    8.5
    At the DP, Chloe and Jimmy enjoy an evening watching film noir (old 16mm style) and popcorn, first is "The Big Sleep." He jokes about the complexities of her life, comparing it to Cagney and Stanwyck. It seems Jimmy is a fan of the film noir genre, even to quoting the dialog on-screen. They hear a shot out in the office, and see a man running up the stairs...and find Lana in the elevator in a pool of blood, shot, and a gun on the floor at her side.



    As the paramedics prepare to transport her, Clark arrives. A little inconsistency here - the police block Clark's attempt to get close, but Lionel (sporting a much shorter hairdo for this week's role) is hovering right over Lana, saying he's sorry for getting her caught up in this. So what are his credentials?



    Lex runs in, Lionel telling him he dropped Lana at her car after the opera, for which Lex was a no-show. Lois, meanwhile, is trying to talk her way inside the police line, but she simply decides to tamper with the evidence instead, by dropping her purse and picking up part of Lana's belongings. Jimmy got a cell camera photo of the fleeing man, but while he looks at his photos of the scene, he's clubbed from behind, taking us to...



    "Noir," in which Jimmy has an unconscious vision of life in Smallville in the 1940s - with all our cast members taking on new roles in his imagination - and living the scenes in black and white. The DP office where he "awakens" is a bit overbusy, and everyone smokes. It's supposed to be a hectic day at the Planet, which is a Lex Luthor publication. Jimmy is still aware of his real self, so all this seems mysterious...and Chloe comes by playing the perfect part of a fast-talking dame from the period, can this gal do any acting job? Jimmy's period haircut and vest make him look, and act, years older. I like this more mature Jimmy. A clumsy reporter bumps into Chloe - it's Clark, wearing the signature black-rimmed glasses. So all the fun reference points are here. A femme fatale calls Jimmy, saying "I want to report a murder." Well, we know it's Lana. "Whose?" he asks. "Mine," she replies. Close scene with an iris-in. Cool.



    He meets her in a dark and damp alley, with a nice cut of her high heels striding through a reflecting puddle, with just a bit of extra sway, perhaps modeling Lauren Bacall, but still playing Lana Luthor. It's risky for him to meet her - he could lose his job. She says her husband is trying to kill her. She tries to act vulnerable and appealing, and gives him a cigarette case, with a matchbook from the Talon, probably a notorious night club. Out on the street, with a number of period cars and some nice set decoration, we see the Talon, a storefront club, and Jimmy checks his hat on entering. He gets in with the help of Clark, but is this the reporter Clark or some new persona? He has a secret identity.



    The club owner is Lionel, and since Jimmy is "down on love," Lionel opines that "Dames is poison." Little heavy on the tough-guy talk here, but on we go. A sultry singer descends the stairs to the stage - it's Lois! Is that voice hers? Hard to tell - Ms. Durance has had voice training, but it could be lip-synch. She has the moves to go with it, though. Lex is watching, too, still in a father-son relationship with Lionel. Lionel tips off Jimmy that Lex is never in his car when it leaves the club. Lex leaves, appearing to enter a four-door period sedan (Cadillac or Packard?). Jimmy spots the ruse as Lex didn't enter after all, but crossed to another Cadillac in the alley, and Jimmy gives chase in his 1941 DeSoto - must have been a pre-production model, since the year is 1940. But we don't see him actually driving the car.



    Lex has come to the Kent barn (or they used that set, anyway) for a close encounter with Lois...so she's playing his mistress. First on-screen kiss between Durance and Rosenbaum? Jimmy watches for an opportunity for a nice expose photo, and bolts after he gets it, leading to a slick night-time car chase with lots of old cars along the streets. The editors even cut in a couple shots from old movie chases, which really don't add to the authenticity. Jimmy beats a train; Lex misses and wrecks the car - but it's period footage, so no harm done to someone's precious classic.



    At the Luthor mansion, Jimmy arrives to see Lana. He's already developed the photo of Lex with Lois - he will "take care of Lex." Lana gives him a gun.



    On a dark and rainy street, someone pulls up in a 1940 Cadillac - looks like none of the cast is being allowed to drive these classic cars - but after a camera cut, Lex steps out to confront Jimmy, who called for him. Lex claims he's divorcing Lana, not planning her demise. When Lex goes for his cigarette case, Jimmy panics and shoots him. Jimmy runs, the cops in pursuit.



    At the DP, the news of the shooting has spread fast; the telephone operator is busy, and so is Chloe, who grabs the switchboard and hears the police report of a press pass and the photo of Lex and Lois found at the murder scene. She realizes it's Jimmy, who by now is drinking heavily at the Talon. Chloe finds him, and has a theory that he may have been set up, by Clark. Lionel tips someone off by phone - it's Lana, "out from under a suffocating marriage." She's in a walk-up with slick-hair Clark, looking much the part. She leaves to take care of something - with a derringer.



    The production crew has dug up old footage of the Daily Planet plaque from the 1950s tv series, reading "Daily Planet Building." No lighted globe on a high-rise here! Thanks, crew, nice touch. Jimmy enters the office, thinking it's Clark who has set him up - who is that behind the partition? It's Lana, looking a bit silly in a fedora that would be better suited for the wicked witch of the north. "They're going to put me away!" James exclaims. They won't get the chance, she says, pulling out the derringer and plugging James. Then another shot - Lana is hit! Who is the shooter? It's Clark! James has been saved by the cigarette case, struck by the bullet. Clark pulls out a Metropolis police badge - in the shape of the Superman shield! He's been undercover, assigned to watch Lex - falling in love with his wife was...a mistake. But Jimmy's under arrest, and awakens back to the real world as the cameras flash.



    Now Jimmy has more thoughts about Lana's shooting - he and Chloe discover the cigarette case is missing from the crime scene. Lana may have been coming to the DP to see someone else - the elevator had stopped on the political correspondents' floor. They break into Brennan's office, then he's there. After some accusations, he says Lana wanted to meet about a story. As he's explaining, he's shot through the door. Jimmy tackles the assailant, while Chloe takes a header down the staircase - of course we have to have a super-rescue, and that's by Clark. He splits; Jimmy doesn't understand how she survived...



    At the modern-day Talon, Lionel is waiting when Lois arrives; he is breaking and entering, she stole evidence from a crime scene. All even? He finds the cigarette case in her purse; it contains a USB drive. Can't let her have it - might contain bad news on Lex - he plugs it in to see a security video of Lex and Senator Burke discussing ARES, which is now known to be a weapons project. Why would he assume Lois has already seen it, and expose it to her?

    He warns her that whoever is protecting Burke hired someone to murder the wife of a Luthor; they wouldn't think twice about silencing Lois. Her unspoken response tells us she knows the truth of that.



    Lana is again in the hospital recovering. Chloe and Lana talk, all that's known is Lionel is having her spy on Lex. She was going to give the damaging video to the DP to get out from under the Luthors, and Lionel needed someone on the inside. This is shocking news to Chloe - was Lana protecting Clark? What about his weakness? Lana ask Chloe to keep this secret.



    Clark has not found any leads on the attacker. Angered by Chloe's silence, he guesses LIonel is behind this manipulation of Lana. Lex hears from a staffer that the gun used to shoot Lana was his. Unregistered, missing. Why would Lana be carrying a gun? Why would Lana be so afraid? Perhaps these questions will be asked of Lana next week.



    Jimmy's being sent on assignment, going to Milwaukee, but it's a start. So he sets up a product placement iPod for Chloe, with the Noir song by Lois, and gets a dramatic kiss for the record...



    Although "Noir" doesn't move the Smallville storyline forward much, it gives an entertaining break in the usual action, and offered the cast an opportunity to display their acting skills on much different characters, and it's a nice paean to the film noir genre. The old film cliches are used effectively; we almost know what's going to happen next. Thanks to the writers and director for letting us see the capabilities of the cast and giving us a refreshing Smallville take on the movies of that era. Great old cars, too! We know more about the acting capability of the cast members post-Smallville (but I hope it will continue indefinitely!) Re-run rating B.moreless
  • This Should Be Ig-"Noir"-ed at All Times!

    5.3
    Noir-Lana and Lionel have a secret meeting, after which Lana is shot. While Jimmy is observing photos of the encounter, he is knocked unconscious. While unconscious Jimmy dreams about what life in Smallville would have been like in the 1940s. Clark is a reporter at the Daily Planet, Lana is a siren who planned the demise of her magnate husband Lex, and Lois is a singer at a bar that Lionel owns.



    Now I'm all for experimental episodes where the writers try to be creative and make imaginative storylines for an episode. But the problem is that type of episode can either be a masterpiece or a piece of crap, "Noir" falls under that catergory unfortunately! While the idea of the writers paying tribute to 1940s cinema sounds good on paper, everything just falls flat on screen. The writing, acting, and execution of the episode feels dull as the episode has no real direction. Also, over half the cast feels like they're going through the motions in their performances like Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, even Allison Mack. The only actor who seems unphased is John Glover who is always entertaining no matter any situation.



    But the episode isn't all bad, the direction is flawless with the black and white scenery looking visually stunning. The costumes, make-up, even the dodgy old school effects were all true to the decade. I just wish that Noir storyline was developed more by the writers as it seemed more like a distraction from the episode than an actual engaging storyline. But with even that said, the real time storyline was weak anyway with Lana getting shot and the investigation surrouding it. The plot could have been resolved better instead of dragging it to the end after the already dragging Noir storyline. It's a good development with Lana helping Lionel to stop Lex. All and All, "Noir" is an experimental episode gone bad, it's incredibly dull with only very few things that make it watchable.moreless
Tom Welling

Tom Welling

Clark Kent/Kal-El of Krypton

Kristin Kreuk

Kristin Kreuk

Lana Lang

Michael Rosenbaum

Michael Rosenbaum

Alexander ('Lex') Joseph Luthor

Allison Mack

Allison Mack

Chloe Sullivan

Erica Durance

Erica Durance

Lois Lane

John Glover

John Glover

Lionel Luthor

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (26)

    • Trivia: The Daily Planet's address is: 1000 Broadway, Metropolis, Kansas.

    • In the car pursuit scene, right after Jimmy leaves Lex behind, the background behind the rear windshield of the car is passing from left to right instead of just diminishing in the distance. Also, when the car pursuit begins, two cars are seen, but not simultaneously because the film of one car is played twice. This can be seen after the first car passes and vanishes before it drives out of view and the next car begins.

    • When Jimmy is in the 1940s Talon we can clearly hear the sound of a saxophone in the number before Lois arrives. Nevertheless, as we can see on the stage, there are only three instrument: a drum, a piano, and a bass.

    • When the episode opens, the clock on the wall under the stairs reads 1:59. A few minutes later, when they hear the gunshot, the same clock says it's 4:15. When Jimmy turns away from the stairs, it's blurry, but looks like one of the hands is pointing towards the 2. Then, once everyone's in the building and Clark runs down the stairs, it's 2:15, which would be awfully fast for that many people to get there, if the 1:59 time was correct. When Lex shows up a couple of minutes later, it's about 2:17 (which would be about right).

    • There is no way a police officer doesn't suspect a reporter (Lois) dropping her purse in a crime scene particularly since the crime scene is full of objects from Lana's purse and since she tried to seduce him for information before.

    • The only reporters and photographers at the crime scene are Jimmy, Chloe, and Lois. This despite the fact that as has been previously established, Lana is big news due to her marriage to Lex.

    • When noir-Lois comes out to sing, the microphone picks up her voice before she's anywhere close enough for it to do so.

    • Chloe tracks Brennan by tapping into the elevator's memory, saying that it would remember which floor it was on last. However, given the police were in the building and would have searched the place for the killer, and the Daily Planet is a big building, it's pretty much impossible that the elevator would have been unused since the murderer escaped using it.

    • Chloe and Jimmy confront Brennan, and Jimmy says they believe he was with Lana "the night before." But the murder took place at approximately 2 a.m., and there's no indication 24 hours has passed. So their confrontation with Brennan would have had to take place the same night.

    • When Chloe and Jimmy confront Brennan, Chloe says that the building was sealed off by the police. But as shown earlier, it wasn't. Clark, Lois, Lex, and Lionel all wandered into the crime scene, and Clark at the very least would have not been allowed in.

    • Lana says she was going to turn the flash drive over to "the press." But it's never explained why she doesn't turn it over to Chloe. It can't be to protect her, because she then gets her involved in Lex and Lionel's schemes and asks her to keep secrets from Clark.

    • After Jimmy wakes up and checks the computer for the picture of the cigarette case, he and Chloe both walk back out to the lobby to check if it is still there on the ground amongst a few of Lana's and Lois's things. However as they were in the lobby it was completely quiet, suggesting no one was around including the police. Why would the police leave items such as that just on the ground, when they should have taken it away for evidence.

    • Jimmy and Chloe sit down to watch a 16mm film version of Bogart's The Big Sleep, complete with old-style projector. While the movie is available on VHS and DVD, it would be virtually impossible to find this movie for rent or for sale in 16mm film format.

    • When Jimmy and Chloe sit down to watch the Bogart movie, they are shown watching the movie in standard 4:3 aspect ratio which creates a picture on the screen that has the same dimensions as a normal TV picture. This movie and all movies that were released before the very first wide-screen movie, The Robe (1953), were shown in this ratio. However, when Jimmy and Chloe jump up and leave the room the movie has suddenly turned into a wide-screen black-and-white movie.

    • Despite the fact Metropolis is a major city with several high-class hospitals, Lionel has Lana flown from Metropolis to the Smallville medical clinic.

    • After Lionel acquires the flash drive from Lois, the top-secret item that he doesn't want her to acquire or see, he... plays it in front of her so she can find out what's on it. Instead of just leaving and watching it somewhere else.

    • It's never explained how or why Lana acquired Lillian's cigarette case. Or why she would bother to steal something that Lex would recognize, just to hide a flash drive.

    • Chloe has a gray Yaris in this episode. However, in previous episodes she has had a red Yaris. Where'd she get the money to buy a new one?

    • When Lana is found in the elevator, there is a bullet wound on her left shoulder. When she is put on the stretcher after the opening credits, there is a wound on her right shoulder. It shows her later in that scene with the wound back on the left. In the end when Lana is laying in the hospital bed talking to Chloe the bullet wound is on her right shoulder once again.

    • In Jimmy's dream, when Lana hands the gun to Jimmy, she hands it to him aimed away from her. When Jimmy takes it, it is aimed towards her.

    • When Chloe falls down the stairwell, you can see a lot of floors she goes through, then Clark catches her, How can Jimmy come down all those stairs so fast?

    • Trivia: The newspaper that Jimmy looks at in the beginning of the black and white part says May 3, 1940. The episode was aired May 3, 2007.

    • Trivia: First episode where we see John Glover without his trademark beard. In the 1940s parts of the episode, he only has a mustache.

    • The x-ray in Lana's hospital room is hung upside down, and doesn't show any trauma.

    • Though smoking was very common in 1940, the actors in this episode only took a mouthful of smoke and blew it out. They never inhaled.

    • No city in Kansas ever had elevated railways, not even in 1940.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Lionel: (to his barback Joe) Rye whiskey. Rocks. Put it on his tab, Joe. Name's Kent. (to Clark) You stroll in here with this crackerjack kid... you trying to land me in the cooler?
      Clark: Cool your jets, Mac. Jimmy here's just a little down on luck. Ain't you, Jimmy?
      Lionel: Poor sucker. Man, dames are his poison.

    • Jimmy: You know, it was so weird. I mean, half of it made sense. Lana and Lionel working together and Clark Kent leading a double life as a reporter by day and crime-fighter by night... You know, it's funny what your mind will cook up.

    • Clark: So it's Luthor you're after. Better wipe that newsie smile off your face. Luthor can smell fresh blood a mile away.
      Jimmy: Fresh? Now you listen here, Kent...
      Clark: Relax. I'm one of the good guys.
      (Clark leaves)
      Jimmy: That's what they all say.

    • Lionel: Ah relax. I got nothing on Kent so far but his tab.
      Lex: You're losing your grip Paps. You used to run this town. Now it looks like the only shots you're calling are from behind that bar.

    • Lionel: (on the phone with Lana) Yeah it's me. Listen, Boy Wonder may have taken the bait. But he's onto you.
      Lana: It doesn't matter any more. You're back on top of the low life food chain and I'm out from under a suffocating marriage.

    • Clark: You're holding back something from me, aren't you? Chloe, I can't believe you'd lie to me.
      Chloe: I can't believe you didn't hear the deafening irony in that sentence.

    • Chloe: When did you learn to do that?
      Jimmy: Some girls go for sports cars. I figure you're more of a lockpicking kind of girl.

    • Clark: (after he shoots Lana) I should've known better. Rule number one--never get mixed up with a girl. Not when you're on the job.
      Jimmy: On the job? (Clark shows police badge) You're a cop?
      Clark: Undercover unit. I was sent here to watch Lex Luthor. Falling in love with his wife, that was... that was my mistake.
      Jimmy: Those were some eyes that she had. Would have made any guy want to be a hero.
      Clark: Yeah, well those eyes just got you the electric chair. Someone should've told you, kid. There are no heroes in Metropolis.

    • Jimmy: I didn't peg you as the kind of guy with a secret identity.
      Clark: And you're never gonna.

    • Lex: And don't worry, kept my word. I'm here alone.
      Jimmy: I'm afraid your word's not worth much, Luthor.
      Lex: Doesn't matter. By tomorrow, you'll be picking lead out of your lungs.

    • (after Clark catches Chloe who's fallen down the stairwell)
      Chloe: You didn't have to wait till the last second, you know.
      Clark: What fun would that be?

    • Jimmy: (answering phone) Hello? Ahem... Olsen here.
      Mystery Woman: I hear you're the best. I want to report a murder.
      Jimmy: Whose?
      Mystery Woman: Mine.

  • NOTES (11)

    • The music that Lois sings at the bar is Somebody Else by Vanessa Rojo.

    • The American Society of Cinematographers honored this episode with an ASC Award. This episode was nominated for two 2008 Leo Awards for Best Production Design in a Dramatic Series and Best Make-Up in a Dramatic Series. This episode won the 2008 Leo Award for Best Cinematography in a Dramatic Series.

    • Original International Air Dates:
      South Africa: June 26, 2007 on Mnet
      Norway: July 8, 2007 on TVNorge
      Belgium: February 16, 2008 on KanaalTwee
      Australia: February 28, 2008 on Ten
      Czech Republic: May 29, 2008 on TV Nova
      New Zealand: September 5, 2008 on TV2
      Slovakia: September 6, 2009 on Markiza

    • On its premiere showing, this episode has the dubious distinction of having the lowest number of viewers of any first-run episode since the series premiered.

    • Richard Kahan previously appeared as a different character, Bitterman, in the season 5 episode "Thirst."

    • Annette O'Toole is credited but doesn't appear in this episode.

    • In-Joke: The plaque showing the Daily Planet logo is taken from the 1950s Adventures of Superman television show with George Reeves.

    • In-Joke: The police badge that Clark held up in the 1940s segment was in the shape of the Superman logo.

    • In-Joke: The way Tom Welling (Clark) touched his glasses in the beginning of the 1940's segment was done in the same mannerism as Christopher Reeve had in the original Superman movies.

    • The "Justice and Doom" segment shows Bart Allen breaking into a facility in Kiev looking for a vial, while Cyborg checks a facility in Taipei. Green Arrow doesn't find anything in Havana but Aquaman acquires the file at an oil platform in St. Roch. Green Arrow meets Aquaman in Star City where they're attacked and Aquaman dives into the river while Green Arrow evades the men. In Smallville, Lois tries to track down the missing car, which is at a Queen Industries Research facility where Bart and Victor receive a message from their mysterious benefactor.

    • The 1940s segments of this episode were filmed in black-and-white.

  • ALLUSIONS (5)

    • Lionel: Listen, Boy Wonder may have taken the bait, but he's on to you.
      When Lionel calls Lana from the bar, he refers to Jimmy Olsen as "Boy Wonder." This is the nickname given to DC Comics character Robin, the sidekick of Batman.

    • Chloe: Jimmy, I've been to every gin joint in town looking for you.
      Chloe's line is a reference to a famous quote from the movie Casablanca in which Humphrey Bogart exclaims "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."

    • Lex: Gardenia
      As Lex is dying after being shot by Jimmy, he utters one final word: "Gardenia". This is a veiled allusion to the classic 1941 black-and-white movie Citizen Kane in which Orson Wells' character, Charles Foster Kane, utters the single word, "Rosebud", before passing away.

    • Movie
      Chloe and Jimmy watch Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep (1946) starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was shot in December, 1944, a few months before the two stars married. The movie was based on the Raymond Chandler detective mystery of the same name.

    • Jimmy: Right back at you, sweetheart.
      Jimmy imitates Humphrey Bogart, using "sweetheart" as Bogart did in movies such as The Maltese Falcon (as Sam Spade) and The Big Sleep (as Philip Marlowe).

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